Sprint Begins Detailing its Push to Talk Future

Sprint has announced the first phase of their Push to Talk modernization plans. Sprint currently has two PTT platforms: Nextel iDEN, and Sprint PCS ReadyLink.

Sprint has begun to migrate customers from Nextel iDEN to Sprint PowerSource devices, a process which will take years to complete gracefully. PowerSource is a hybrid solution that fusions Sprint PCS voice and data, with Nextel Push to Talk. ReadyLink however uses the Sprint PCS data network. In addition, Sprint has previously announced plans to add a new system, QChat, which will become Sprint’s future Push to Talk platform.

Confused? Sprint understands. Today they have internally announced preliminary plans to resolve these Push to Talk migration woes.

Sprint’s first step will be to phase out their ReadyLink network. The ReadyLink network was launched before the merger with Nextel, and has been largely unsuccessful. ReadyLink will be supported, but new customers (who are interested in PTT) will be directed towards Sprint PowerSource devices instead. Internally, Sprint aims to migrate as many customers as possible, both on the deprecated ReadyLink platform, as well as the aging Nextel network, over to PowerSource devices. This will ensure Sprint has one consistent Push to Talk platform, as Nextel and PowerSource phones can push to talk one-another.

In 2008, Sprint will launch High Performance Push To Talk (HPPTT). HPPTT is Sprint’s marketing for their future QChat-based PTT solution. Sprint has not stated if HPPTT will be backwards-compatible with the existing Sprint Nextel PTT Network. Such a move would be considered a crucial win for Sprint, a company desperate to hold onto its push to talk dominance in light of the transition away from Nextel’s older network.

Sprint did confirm that ReadyLink will not be shut down before the launch of HPPTT, ensuring that ReadyLink users can gracefully transition to HPPTT devices without any service interruption. In addition, Sprint will continue to offer ReadyLink devices in order to prevent any service interruption due to handset replacement, at least until the launch of HPPTT.